State Sovereignty Movement Quietly Growing

You may not have heard much about it, but there’s a quiet movement afoot to reassert state sovereignty and stop the uncontrolled expansion of federal government power. Almost half of the state legislatures are considering or have representatives preparing to introduce resolutions which reassert the principles of the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution and the idea that federal power is strictly limited to specific areas detailed in the Constitution and that all other governmental authority rests with the states.

In the version of this bill being considered in Washington state, they appeal to the authority of James Madison in The Federalist who wrote:

“”The powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, [such] as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people.”

The founding fathers believed in a balance between state and federal power. This state sovereignty movement clearly arises from the belief that the balance of power has tilted too far and for too long in the direction of the federal government and that it’s time to restore that lose balance.

The emergence of this movement is a hopeful sign of the people asserting their rights and the rights of the states and finally crying “enough” to runaway government. With the threat of increasingly out of control federal spending, some of these sovereignty bills may stand a fair chance of passage in the coming year.

There’s a lot of excitement about these bills, but there are also a lot of misconceptions, with people claiming that some states have already declared sovereignty and that the movement is much farther along than it really is. Contrary to popular rumor, none of the states has actually enacted a sovereignty law yet. Some have come close. Oklahoma’s bill passed their lower house overwhelmingly but stalled in the Senate last fall and is being held over for consideration in the new year.

Contrary to the fantasies of some extremists, these sovereignty bills are not the first step towards secession or splitting up the union, nor are they an effort to block collection of the income tax, appealing though that might be. For the most part, they are not so much political statements of independence as they are expressions of fiscal authority directed specifically at the growing cost of unfunded mandates being placed upon the states by the federal government. Despite the movement picking up steam as he came to office, the target of these bills is not President Obama, but rather the Democrat-dominated Congress whose plans for massive bailouts and expanded social programs are likely to come at an enormous cost to the states.

It has become increasingly common for Congress to pass legislation which dictates policy to the states, but which comes without adequate federal funding and the expectation that the cost of these programs, which the states had no real say in approving, will come out of state budgets. This has been a long-term problem with Medicaid and Medicare, but the unfunded mandate which stirred up the most ire recently was the No Child Left Behind program. More concern has been raised with the recent reauthorization and expansion of the SCHIP program which has a history of requiring more expenditure than is provided for in the federal budget.

The text of the bill proposed in Arizona makes the clearest statement of the intent to block unfunded mandates:

“That this Resolution serves as notice and demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.”


“That all compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.”

What this movement is most similar to is the Nullification Crisis of 1832 where the State of South Carolina asserted that it had the right to nullify the authority of federal laws within its borders. In this case the states are not asserting anything as broad as the Doctrine of Nullification, but are merely reasserting the limits which the 10th Amendment places on federal authority, specifically as it applies to spending, the idea being that they don’t have to pay for federal mandates if their legislators choose not to.

Not all of the bills fall within these limitations. Missouri’s bill actually goes somewhat further and does assert the right fo the state to negate federal law, specifically in reference to the proposed federal Freedom of Choice Act, which some fear would bar states from passing laws regulating abortion. New Hampshire’s bill actually goes so far as to lay out a very strongly worded variant of the Doctrine of Nullifcation which specifies acts by the federal government (many of them currently being proposed in Congress) which would effectively negate the Constitution and the authority of the federal government within their state. Hawaii’s proposed sovereignty bill comes very close to being an actual act of secession, based on native tribal rights.

As things stand right now it looks like Oklahoma, Washington, Hawaii, Missouri, Arizona, New Hampshire, Georgia, California, Michigan and Montana will all definitely consider sovereignty bills this year. They may be joined by Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Alaska, Kansas, Alabama, Nevada, Maine and Pennsylvania where legislators have pledged to introduce similar bills. Twenty states standing up to the federal government and demanding a return to constitutional principles is a great start, but it remains to be seen whether legislatures and governors are brave enough or angry enough to follow through. As the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress push for more expansion of federal power and spending that may help provide the motivation needed for the sovereignty movement to take off.


About Dave 536 Articles
Dave Nalle has worked as a magazine editor, a freelance writer, a capitol hill staffer, a game designer and taught college history for many years. He now designs fonts for a living and lives with his family in a small town just outside Austin where he is ex-president of the local Lions Club. He is on the board of the Republican Liberty Caucus and Politics Editor of Blogcritics Magazine. You can find his writings about fonts, art and graphic design at The Scriptorium. He also runs a conspiracy debunking site at


  1. Maybe one should open a history book,
    going back to the 1860’s, and take a look
    at the war of Northern oppression
    ( commonly called the “Civil War” ).
    Might it really needed to be termed the
    War of federal oppression.

    Might we not need to stop at ascension of
    State sovereignty, and continue on to a
    possible thought of succeeding from a
    union of states, governed by an oppressive
    socialist regime, which is hell bent on
    destroying the United States of America,
    and reducing OUR country to another
    communist government controlled , state
    owned gulag for those, once of a free
    nation of the people, by the people, and
    for the people.

    We might only need to turn to the history
    of communism, and to the writings of
    Karl Marx , and the communist manifesto,
    to understand the new demoncratic plan
    of federal governance of all people,
    business and institutions, all state
    governments included, that is now in
    motion in the chambers of the house,
    senate, and in the office of the presidency.

    They socialists inside the beltway are
    moving quickly to consolidate their power,
    and once consolidation is complete, the
    power will only be to the federal
    government, and the states now will be
    totally subservient to federal control.
    The will of the people will only bring
    on the imprisonment, and deaths of those
    who will question the authority of the
    federal government, this as seen in every
    instance where socialism and communism
    has come to power.
    The lead in to this can currently be seen
    in the attack by the socialists in the federal
    government on the free speech of the
    people through dissent of the current
    activities of the new socialist congress,
    senate, and office of the presidency.
    If the people, and the states allow this
    cancer to spread, and consolidate its
    power, the United States of America
    will shortly be known as the USSA.
    United Socialist States of America.

  2. Now on the other hand, what about the states violations of the federal constitution? Look closely at both sides of the issue. It is not just the federal government that is attacking our constitutional rights. Carefully read the second ammendment, look up each word if you have to to understand the issue. This is only one area to look at but it represents the whole problem. First of all the states are required to uphold and enforce the federal constitution to gain status as a state of the union. Article six clause two clearly states the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, so where do states get the power to regulate firearms or any other weapon. To keep and bare arms is not limited to just fire arms, it is an all inclusive statement. shall not infringe is an all inclusive command, Look it up. Therefore no state and no federal gun laws are valid. shall not infringe is an absolute prohibition to writh any laws pertaining to ones self defense choice of weapons. Some may be great with a sword other are excelent with a bow and arrow, you can not qualify what arms are because anything can be used as a weapon. Tell me the peasants didnt use pitch forks and axes to defend themelves. If the states aare required to uphold and enforce the constitution and they are how do they get the authority to pass subsequent gun laws to those of the federal government and what makes any law concerning the right to keep and bare arms valid? There is no arms law on the books that can be valid if the second ammendment exists and it does. In fact any laws pertaining to the right to keep and bare arms is a crime against the constitution as it violates the basic concept of the force of the constitution. shall n ot infringe is an absolute command to bnot pass any legislation pertaining to the right to keep and bare arms. Plain and simple no gunlaws or any kind of weapons laws are valid and are infact a crime against the constitution which is defined as an act of High Treason. This exactly what it boils down to, all government agencies state and federal are violating the constitution which under the laws voids the authority they attempt to exercise. A direct violation of their oath of office and an inpeachable criminal offense. don’t laugh, this is exactly what the law says it is. Therefore the power and authority of the state and federal government are null and void by fact of law. Until the constitution is restored and al of the unconstitutional laws on the books are repealed, government does not exist. they are in breech of contract and have self terminated any authority we gave by consent. We as individuals have to answer to the law and government is required to do the same or there is no constitution and therefore no authority to be governd. This is the way the writers of the constitution menat it to be, read their notes!

  3. Yes, we must understand Marxism for what it is. “Father Karl” himself laughed at the idea that he had propounded an economic theory. The Communist Manifest sums itself up as “the abolition of private property.” Read correctly, it is the destruction of private property.

    THE book exposing this from his Marx’ own writings in by the late Rev. Richard Wurmbrand (Tortured for Christ). The reason he was jailed for years was for disseminating this book in communist Romania and elsewhere. The title is Marx & Satan, and is available from Voice of the Martyrs US website for a mere $5.

    On the real economic side, we have Keynesian economics. John Maynard Keynes explained the real intent himself in his book The Economic Consequences of the Peace:
    “”By a continuous process of inflation, governments can confiscate secretly
    and unobserved an important part of the wealth of their citizens. There is
    no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than
    to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of
    economic law on the side of destruction – and does it in a manner in which
    not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”

    We must end the Fed and its fiat currency. We must assert states’ rights. We must elect Constitutionalists. And we must do it, however small a minority freedom-lovers may be. As George Washington said. “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest may repair. … The event is in the hand of God.”

  4. Thanks for a more clear post. Most of the posts regarding this issue were over dramatized and sensationalized.
    I was wondering why headlines on TV weren’t going a buzz….basically because nothings happened yet….but we can hope.

  5. I think we may see something really worth paying attention to before the end of March. I can’t imagine that Oklahoma won’t have passed their bill by then. Maybe Arizona too.


  6. Please tell me that Texas is part of this movement.

    You know, as a Texan I would have expected it, but none of the sources I’ve checked have any info on a sovereignty bill for Texas. Of course, the Texas Leg. is out of session until Monday. We may see something introduced then.


  7. I only offered NCLB as an example of an unfunded mandate. Clearly if you read some of the bills and associated statements they are reacting more to the potential abuses they see coming down the road.


  8. I like the sound of it but am suspicious. Why Hawaii? Why these northeastern “blue” states? And CALIFORNIA??? Why aren’t SC and TX on the list? I don’t know about this. One thing I DO know is that they are very very close to a Constitutional Convention, just one or two states away from forcing it. Doesn’t matter if the state doesn’t want it anymore or not, once on the list, they can force it. I would be vary wary of anything Washington and California pass, even if it is republican lawmakers introducing it. There has to be a reason why libs would not fight it!

  9. Recent reports are that SC may be joining the list. Texas doesn’t start its legislative session until tomorrow and no legislators have tried to jump the gun and get publicity for a sovereignty bill, but I bet one will show up.

    As for Hawaii, they’ve got a strong independent streak and a movement of natives who want genuine secession.


  10. I don’t get it Dave, why would you care about state sovereignty resolutions….aren’t they just being fostered on some gullible legislators by conspiracy nuts who think the feds have too much power?

  11. You don’t have to be a conspiracy nut to think the federal government has too much power. It’s hardly the same thing as thinking the feds are bugging your cereal or dosing you with saltpeter.


  12. This gop US Senator speaking the truth about how terrible the gop was during
    the Bush years and how the soon to be passed Stimulus Bill continues that history of
    reckless government spending must be another conspiracy nut…. he sounds terribly close to what Ron Paul has been saying for years….

    US Senator Tom Coburn(R-OK) released the following statement on Feb. 6 regarding a
    non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that says the stimulus bill,
    which Coburn is calling the “Generational Theft Act,” will harm our economy and
    cause our Gross Domestic Product to decrease over the long term.
    “The concerns that many members of Congress have expressed about this bill are not
    based on the failed policies of the past but sobering facts about the present, and
    the future. As CBO has stated, this bill will not work. In fact, this bill will hurt
    our economy. A majority of Americans also do not believe this bill will work because
    they possess a level of common sense that does not exist in Washington,” Dr. Coburn
    said. “Congress and the president have a choice. They can pull this bill and fix it,
    or they can ram it through and claim victory. Republicans and the Bush
    administration faced, and failed, this test many times. For years, Republicans
    passed bloated and reckless spending bills that were harmful to the economy. Yet,
    even as Republicans grew the government they touted their bills as sound and
    fiscally responsible vehicles for job creation. Republican hypocrisy and spin met
    its logical conclusion with the most recent election. Democrat attempts to call
    failures successes won’t be any more successful. The biggest loser in this game
    won’t be either party, but the country,” Dr. Coburn said.

  13. Coburn is on the right track, but I think he ultimately stops short of the right conclusion. I don’t think it’s possible to fix this bill. I don’t think it’s possible to spend your way out of a recession at least not when using deficit dollars.


  14. Dave, what source told you Alabama will considering such a bill or resolution. I’ve searched the online legislation site for the state and do not see any such legislation introduced to date. So, why is Alabama included in the list?

  15. Good question, Matthew. When I look niow, many the articles I can find on the subject include Alabama on the list, but it turns out that the ultimate source for many of those articles may be an article by Jerome Corsi on WorldNetDaily, and Corsi is not a credible source for anything. However, Corsi’s article came out after mine did, and I suspect he lifted much of it from my article based on the wording, and then added his own silly speculation to it.

    In the process of searching for my original source I did find an interesting list of where various sovereignty initiatives stand. But it looks like most of the sources I used have a similar list of states which are considering introducing a bill and Alabama is on all of those lists. The list may originate with the 10th Amendment Foundation.

    Of course, Alabama is notable as one state which previously tried to use the 10th Amendment sovereignty argument to prevent desegregation in the 1960s.

    Of course, Alabama’s legislature like a lot of the others only convened last week, so who knows a bill may appear at any moment.


  16. Somebody here in Texas better grow some nads. If not, they’ll just pick us off one at a time. Me, I’m exercising my 2nd Ammentment. Anybody got any deals on 9mm, .44mag, .40 cal or .50 mag? I’m low.

  17. Okay, thanks, I’ll see what the 10th Amendment Foundation says, and I’ll keep an eye out on the ALISON system.

    I checked the 10 Amendment Center’s website, and they say the same thing. I’ve posted a query and I’ll see if they can tell me.

  18. The Infowars article referenced herein did not make any claim that states were moving to secede or to block the federal income tax—in fact it did the opposite by describing the Russian predictions as “threadbare Cold War logic.” I also find this duplicity remarkable in that you declare such things “appealing” and “extremist” in the same breath. You must be on the same pills as Glenn Beck.

    It’s funny how the people who originally prescribed limits on federal power are never called extremists–nor are those who abuse that power today. Only those who believe such limits should be respected are vilified. These days, any practical recognition of the constitutional limits on federal power is astonishing. How do you know that’s not a first step towards a government based upon law instead of on force? Since further steps have not been taken, there is no telling which way those steps are going.

    As for reasons to secede, federal agencies have forcibly usurped virtually every power that was reserved to the states and the people by the constitution. And most of those agencies cannot pass an audit. But treason and embezzlement on the grandest scale don’t seem to qualify as “extremist” in your book. More duplicity! Would you even admit that states have a right to secede when the federal government routinely violates the supreme law of the land? (1)

    To the extent that others could be accused of exaggerating the sentiments of the states, you could also be accused of trivializing them. When the states start declaring bankruptcy and the federal government only tries to expand its power further instead of enacting meaningful reforms, all bets are off. And maybe it’s time for Americans to reconsider how much they really need a federal government which conveniently “loses” a trillion here and a trillion there.(2) Pretty soon you’re talking about money which could pay the bills! Which would you rather have: food and shelter or thieving federal bureaucracy? Don’t laugh yet, cause it might come to that.

    (1) The Men Who Destroyed the Constitution –

    (2) …its own auditors admit the military cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends. “According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions,” Rumsfeld admitted.

  19. I checked ALISON too and it’s a pain to go through all those bills. I wonder if contacting your state rep might help?

    Robert good luck with that ammo situation. Check my earlier article on trying to find ammo at the gun show in Austin. It’s grim.


  20. 123. Writers on InfoWars have repeatedly endorsed Panarin’s silly predictions, including head honcho Alex Jones.

    Good point on the military spending issue, but you understate it. That $2.3 trillion was just for 1 year. In the subsequent year, aware of the embarrassment that $2.3 trillion caused they STILL managed not to account for $1.1 trillion more.

    Thankfully Don Rumsfeld did make this problem public and did a lot to resolve it and the accounting systems in the military have been modernized and are much more reliable as a result.


  21. There is more than pork in the stimulus plan. I was upset about the $9Billion for broadband expansion and other projects the federal gov’t has no business in… until I saw this and it made me livid:

    They want complete control over YOUR healthcare- making your records part of a federal database, and including limits to treatment options. Yes, THAT is in the stimulus package! When does your treatment become politically based? The abuse MUST be stopped!

  22. There’s an interesting development related to this story here in Texas.

    It seems that our governor and state government are looking into the legalities of the option of rejecting all federal funds from the stimulus package so that they won’t have to comply with any of the requirements and unfunded mandates which come with them.

    I think that says a lot about this situation.


  23. Dave,

    I’m glad to hear that Texas is at least bailing out the boat, but, I see they haven’t got it afloat yet. I’ve been trying to get a moment to write the Governor for days, and, every time I get started, another Shoe drops.

    The main thing we need to focus on is the “Power to write Rules, Regulations and Policies” that is smothering America. It’s not just that Congress is writing unconstitutional Laws, but, their minions in every State, County, City and Town have been granted “Powers” that do not exist.

    FYI: A Zero Tolerance Policy is actually defined as an “Instrument of Tyranny.” It creates Crimes that do not exist by defining penalties and punishments (that cannot have Legal Power) for not obeying ‘Policy.’ The reason they cannot have power is because ‘making law’ is the business of Legislatures, not Nursery School Administrators.

    This gradually growing Tyranny of low level lackeys began in the 19th Century when Congress began etablishing Regulatory Agencies (The Railroad Commission), ‘granting’ them a ‘Power’ that does not exist in the Constitution. Congress was never granted the “Power to grant Powers,” in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, nor, the Amendments appended thereto.

    ‘This,’ “Power to Grant Powers” is the ultimate usurpation of Power, a longstanding, active, and, virulent “Conspiracy to Commit Tyranny” by “Officials” (Public Servants) at all levels, even unto those not employed by Governments, down to that “Nursery Shool Administrator,” and, the assistant that he/she empowered to write a “Zero Tolerance Policy.”

    Rules, Regulations, Policies and Proceedures ‘cannot’ be enforced as Law. According to the Constitution, they are not Laws, as if they never existed, and, anyone that obeys, or, attempts to enforce them has joined a (USSC defined) “Conspiracy to Commit Tyranny Against the People.”

  24. Government’s powers are whatever we allow it to get away with. The question now is whether we can put the genie back in the bottle.


  25. You’re right, Dave, and, I believe that was my point exactly: they have already breached the Contract with the States, and, it is time for the States to assert their Rights and affirm their Powers, with the full backing of the People.

    If not now, when? How many innocent people will have to die before it is time?

  26. Nine of these states have ALSO already endorsed The Liberty Amendment…:

    If you live in one of the other states that have finally awakened to the 10th Amendment, please push your local politicians to endorse the Liberty Amendment as a MEANS to exercise the 10th Amendment.

    The Liberty Amendment will resolve 45 outstanding freedom issues all at once.

  27. Thank you Dave for your easily understandable explanations and the great links. You have given me alot of hope. Larry Kilgores page was a little distrubing, though, as I never thought of our country coming to such a thing. However, I slightly disheartened at the news of Jim Clyburn’s (D-SC) stunt. This MOST definately needs to be cahllenged! Have you passed this information on to Rush Limbaugh? He can get the word out.

  28. Well, I didn’t provide the Kilgore link. I half considered deleting that comment as spam.

    Limbaugh ought to be aware of the efforts that are going on. SC’s efforts were mentioned briefly on This Week this morning.

    Keep watching. I’m working on a followup article.


  29. I looked at the Nevada Constitution and believe that the Sovereingty issue is already covered inside that document, and has been in force all the time in many ways since its inception in 1864. I might be wrong on this, but here is the link, and possibly you could check it out and see if you read what I read in it. From what I see, it states that we are basically soverign anyway.

    and like several other people, I looked and could find nothing in our Legislature, whch is just starting its bi-annual session, that seemed to suggest that we were going to go on this route, although I certainly do wish that we would here in Nevada, but I can’t see it happening because, as you know, Harry Reid is from here and that wouldn’t fly to well with him, if this state were to declare sovereingty, even as limited and small scoped as that is, as opposed to the possible consideration of secession.

  30. I think this movement is necessary!
    Congress keeps passing these worthless feel-good laws (like the Adam Walsh Act) without any review and threatens states to pass such legislation even if these laws cost way more to enact than to adopt.
    The Constitution must be upheld and I support state rights all the way.

  31. It looks like a number of states are already introducing new sovereignty bills for this legislative session. I’ll post an update when there’s enough info available.


  32. Nevada has a bill in the hands of an assemblyman right now, it hasn’t been turned in yet. But regarding Nevada’s Constitution.

    Article 1 Sec. 2
    Purpose of government; paramount allegiance to United States. All political power is inherent in the people[.] Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it. But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers as the same have been or may be defined by the Supreme Court of the United States; and no power exists in the people of this or any other State of the Federal Union to dissolve their connection therewith or perform any act tending to impair[,] subvert, or resist the Supreme Authority of the government of the United States. The Constitution of the United States confers full power on the Federal Government to maintain and Perpetuate its existance [existence], and whensoever any portion of the States, or people thereof attempt to secede from the Federal Union, or forcibly resist the Execution of its laws, the Federal Government may, by warrant of the Constitution, employ armed force in compelling obedience to its Authority.

  33. This is very enlightening. I have been looking for a sight like this. I hope you people are for real. I have been gathering data and information pertaining to a lot of this. But never reached a real sight.

  34. the USA is a tool for regular people to live in liberty. We need to find a way for increasing numbers of people to live in liberty. if the USA breaks up, it fails (not the idea, just this attempt at success), if the USA goes socialist, it fails (and may indeed erupt into another civil war). in my opinion the only way to succede is to strip a great deal of power from the federal gogernment (if they stay in charge, we will surely fail) and return it to the states and people. Let’s have a little diversity, and let it begin with the states.

  35. Sovereignty


    Function: noun

    Etymology: Middle English soverainte, from Anglo-French sovereinté, from soverein
    Date: 14th century

    1 a: supreme power especially over a body politic b: freedom from external control c: controlling influence
    2: one that is sovereign ; especially : an autonomous state


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